February 8, 2008

Roosevelt Institution Has Exposition

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The Cornell chapter of the nation’s first student think tank, the Roosevelt Institution, held its second annual exposition in the Straight Art Gallery yesterday afternoon.
At the exposition, the organization’s leaders spoke about the Institute’s goals. Some of the Roosevelt members had a presentation on display about the proposals they worked on last semester. People had a chance to learn about and discuss each group’s new policies. [img_assist|nid=27522|title=Community connection|desc=Prof. Arturo-Ignacio Sanchez, city and regional planning, speaks at the Roosevelt Institute Exposition yesterday.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
Founded four years ago, the Roosevelt Institution is a nation-wide organization that provides the necessary infrastructure to facilitate student discourse about social problems and public policy. Cornell’s chapter, which was started two years ago, focuses on three main areas of discussion: Community Development, Making Democracy and Strong Communities through Equal Justice. There is also a fourth subgroup called Think International that focuses on implementing positive change on a global scale.
Sun columnist Tim Krueger ’08, a member of the Institution’s national staff and head of the Criminal Justice Challenge, said what makes the Roosevelt Institution unique among Cornell’s student groups is that: “We are the only university organization that transcends the bounds of the University in our goals and policies. Being a part of this national organization amplifies the effect we can have on the nation.”
When discussing the larger implications of Roosevelt, Krueger said, “Roosevelt allows us to connect with students who have similar interests in social justice. It has become a nation-wide network. In five to ten years, when our generation graduates [from] college, I believe that we will see Roosevelt as the beginnings of a new progressive movement.”
Julie Geng ’08, Sun senior editor and director of Cornell’s Chapter of the Roosevelt Institution, also commented on Roosevelt’s presence on Cornell: “The Roosevelt Institution plays a unique role on campus; unlike the Cornell Democrats or Republicans, Roosevelt is a political group but not one affiliated with a particular party,” she said.
Although the Roosevelt Institution is active in the political arena on Cornell’s campus, its goal is to contribute on a national level.
“The goal of Roosevelt is to have an impact not so much on campus, but as a national organization. Our biggest concern is getting our policies recognized by politicians in Washington,” Geng said.
When looking to the future of the organization, Geng hopes to see more participation from members of the Cornell community — professors and students alike.
“The Roosevelt Institution continues to keep expanding,” Geng said. “We are trying to integrate the Roosevelt Institution into some of the Policy Analysis and Management courses. We are encouraging people to come up with new ideas for public policy. In addition, we are hoping to come out with a local publication, which will include policies from the Roosevelt Institution along with some of students’ in-class assignments.”
The Exposition finished with special remarks by Dr. Arturo-Ignacio Sanchez, professor of city and regional planning, who served as policy analyst for the New York City Mayor’s Office of Education Services. In recent years, Arturo-Ignacio has worked as a community-based activist on immigration and economic development issues, served for 10 years as a member of Queens Community Board Three and has been a member of the Planners Network Advisory Committee.
Drawing on his personal experiences in public policy, Arturo-Ignancio had some advice for the members of Roosevelt.
“Always keep in touch with the people who you are advocating for,” Arturo-Ignacio said. “It is vital to your work to take both a bottom-up amd a top-down analysis of society. It is only in combining these two perspectives to develop an effective policy.”
In his final remarks, Arturo-Ignancio offered some words of encouragement in choosing public policy and social justice as a line of work.
“If you are willing to fight the good fight, and you are on the right side, the side of social justice, although you might encounter discontent from opponents, you will be able to look at yourself at the end of the day and know that you were able to contribute something,” Arturo-Ignancio said.